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Alexandria Family Law Blog

Should I choose a divorce attorney or a mediator?

If you and your spouse are Virginia residents contemplating divorce, you can choose to each hire an attorney or you can together hire an impartial mediator to help you resolve your issues and arrive at a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. In its Divorce Handbook, Fairfax County explains that mediation addresses the economic and parenting issues you face, such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, and the division of marital property.

One of the advantages of mediation, however, ultimately can become its greatest disadvantage as well. That is the fact that you and your spouse are in control. The mediator can help you negotiate with each other, but cannot force you to reach agreement. Should you fail to arrive at a mutually satisfactory divorce settlement, including custody, visitation, and support of your children, you will have wasted your time and money and have to start from scratch with private attorneys.

Do Virginia grandparents have visitation rights?

As a Virginia grandparent, a time may come when you would like to pursue visitation rights to your grandchild, and you may wonder whether you have grounds to obtain them. According to The Spruce, the state does not have statutes that are specific to grandparent visitation. Rather, the same set of statutes concern decisions regarding both visitation and custody.

To successfully pursue visitation rights to your grandchild, you must typically show that maintaining a relationship with you is in the best interest of the child in question. In making this determination, the court may conduct mental or psychological evaluations with your grandchild, and mediation and on-camera interviews may also come into play.

Will your prenup hold up in court?

Before your wedding day, you and your then-fiancé signed a prenuptial agreement. Now that your husband has asked for a divorce, you have been wondering if you will be bound by the contract. Like with many other legal questions, the answer is maybe. For example, did you know that a Virginia court can throw out the prenuptial agreement if certain conditions exist? While it has generally been difficult for a spouse to convince a court that a prenuptial agreement should be void, it has been known to happen.

In cases like yours, where the husband convinced his wife to sign a prenuptial agreement and now wants a divorce, you may be able to prove to a judge that there are defensible grounds to revoke the contract. Read further to find out more about conditions that may result in an invalid prenup.

Is your spouse entitled to your military benefits after divorce?

If you reside in Virginia, are part of the U.S. Armed Forces and suspect a divorce is in your future, you may be wondering what rights your spouse will retain to your military benefits once the divorce is final. In most cases, your spouse will no longer be eligible to use a military commissary or rely on Tricare benefits once the two of you divorce, but there is a key exception.

Per Military.com, the decision of whether your spouse will retain access to your military benefits, post-divorce, comes down to whether they meet the criteria set forth by what is known as the 20/20/20 military divorce rule. For your soon-to-be-ex spouse to be able to qualify for your military benefits, your relationship must adhere to three specific criteria.

How should you manage online accounts in a divorce?

When you go through a divorce in Virginia, you typically consider how you and your ex-husband will separate your material assets. However, it is important to consider your online accounts as well.

According to USA Today, your social media accounts are among the online services you should separate. If you and your ex-husband have a shared Facebook page, it is recommended that you both establish your own page and delete the old one. It is also a good idea to decide how you will manage your new social media account. You should typically take into consideration your privacy settings, the information you share and your friends list, and you may want to adjust all of these depending on the amount of information you want your ex-husband to have access to.

Calculating child support in a VA divorce

When couples file for divorce in Virginia, children are often left to go through major emotional and financial changes in their lives. As a way to minimize some of these dramatic changes, the court will issue a child support order to the non-custodial parent in the case. Child support is designed to bridge the financial gap that children often experience when they are forced to move into a new home and adapt to a new lifestyle.

Virginia calculates child support amounts based off the income shares model. This idea is based off the belief that children should have access to the same financial support that they would have had if their parents had stayed married. The amount of child support is based off both parents’ income, as well as several other factors that the judge may consider. According to Virginia statutes, these factors include the following:

  •          Standard of living that the child was familiar with prior to the divorce.
  •          Current occupation, income and earning potential of each parent.
  •          Medical, educational and child care needs of the child.
  •          Tax consequences, such as child tax credits, claims for exemptions and child care credits.
  •          Life insurance coverage.
  •          Cost of visitation and travel.

Study: How joint custody benefits kids

There are many kids who spend a majority of the time with the custodial parent, and then visit the other parent on the weekends and on holidays. However, a study shows the benefits that kids experience when they are able to spend equal amounts of time with each parent. A meta-analysis reported in the Journal of Family Psychology found that children of divorce are often better adjusted when parents have shared custody rather than sole-physical custody.

The study showed that children who spent a significant amount of time with both parents on a regular basis were less likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. Furthermore, these children had higher self-esteems and did better in school than those children who spent the majority amount of time with one parent.

How does the VA offset factor in divorce settlements?

If you are a Virginia veteran with a former spouse, a recent ruling by the US Supreme Court with regard to retirement benefits and divorce settlements may be welcome indeed. This ruling overturned an older decision by a state court and shined a light on some of the issues with the VA offset.

Military Times reports that in 2005, John Howell learned that he was eligible to receive disability benefits. Like many veterans, he elected to waive a portion of his taxable retirement check for a nontaxable VA disability payment. (The choice to accept this so-called VA offset is necessary if you wish to receive disability payments but have a disability rating of less than 50 percent; however, if you have a disability rating of 50 percent or greater, you may receive disability and retirement payments at the same time.)

Finding your spouse’s offshore accounts

If you are planning to file for divorce in Virginia, you are likely preparing by gathering as much information about your spouse’s assets and financial situation as you can. Whether or not you realize it, your spouse may be hiding funds in an offshore account. We at Jeffrey A. Vogelman and Associates know how important it is to find and report all assets in a divorce, which is why we will do everything possible to help you locate any available funds.

 

Should you consider a postnuptial agreement in Virginia?

Most people have heard of prenuptial agreements. These documents outline conditions for the marriage, including how things like asset division and child custody and support will be handled in the case of a divorce. Sometimes, there are clauses that require the marriage to be a certain length for spousal support or infidelity clauses that include a payout to the spouse who has been cheated on.

Couples that have a prenuptial agreement are typically well-protected. However, couples who didn't create a prenuptial agreement but have experienced issues may want to consider a postnuptial instead.

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